Sixties mania!


A lot of the time my work wear is the same as my rest of the time wear; it’s one of the joys of both working in the arts and (mainly) working from home. It means I get to spend most days wearing dresses I love with the added bonus of vomit jumpers on days working from home.

Whilst dressmaking has really added to this ability, my most recent make for the Simple Sew bloggers network has bucked this trend somewhat, as – despite it’s cute vintage stylings – it really could count as “office wear”.

What is it?

A tailored shift dress with three quarter length sleeves and a contrast peter pan collar


Is it blue?

Yes

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

The body of the dress is made using an adorable navy floral print cotton poplin that was very kindly supplied by Abakhan for this make. The collar also came from Abakhan and is a super soft cream coloured viscose.
What’s the pattern?

The Simple Sew Trudy dress in view B.

What was good about making this?

The first thing to say is that this dress was super easy to sew up. I made a toile first to check for bust fit after the issues I had with Ruby, and once I’d made some minor adjustments it went up in hardly any time.

In addition, although I’m not sure if good is the right word, this dress did push me out of my comfort zone due it’s sixties styling; whilst I love classic details, the sixties aren’t usually a decade that I look to for inspiration as I tend to find that the styles just don’t suit me. Making this dress has helped change that assumption somewhat (although I doubt I’ll be emulating Twiggy any time soon!).


What was bad about making it?

For some reason I couldn’t get the collar to stay put at the back, although that was fixed with a bit of invisible stitching. I found I had to make a really thin hem on the dress, which might have been a design feature (the 60s were all about the mini after all) but I think might be more to do with a combination of my height and personal preference to not show my bottom to the world!

Would you make it again?

Hmmmm….. So I think I might be a bit swayed towards the sixties aesthetic, but I’m not sure I’d make this dress again without making a few tweaks first. There’s also a couple of other similar but different dresses out there which I might give a try. Or maybe I’ll just go back to my usual fit and flare style. Only time will tell. (And Instagram. Instagram always tells.)

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Disclaimer: whilst the Trudy pattern was provided by Simple Sew Patterns and the fabric generously provided by Abakhan, I received no other forms of payment for this blog post and the opinions expressed are my own.

The case for the prosecution

The case

Over the last few months I’ve been noticing something strange in amongst my usual sewing projects. Namely that there’s been things that haven’t been made by me for me. It seems that – unwittingly – I may have become an unselfish sewer.

Clue 1 – Christmas waistcoats


It started off casually enough when, building on our Christmas card, I made matching waistcoats for the boy’s brothers for Christmas. Yes, it’s a gift but well, they’re part of a joke, nothing more. Plus I’d already made a white one for the boy, so making two more wasn’t much of a hassle.

Clue 2 – A very loud shirt

© Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (www.fb.com/wearehereandnow)

My brother is a lover of loud vintage shirts and I figured what could be better than a loud vintage shirt chosen by your sister but a loud vintage-esque shirt made by your sister? This train of thought led to my making a Negroni shirt for him for Christmas using the most insanely loud Liberty fabric I’ve ever seen from the rag market (and man do I love that fabric).

It was a dream to make up and even more of a dream when, on Christmas day, not only did he love it as soon as he opened it but it was a perfect fit (I’d been a bit worried about making something without any measurements).

© Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (www.fb.com/wearehereandnow)

As for the particularly professional photos with this one, my brother’s a DJ and he also runs amazing events in Bristol, so the fact he wore the shirt to one of their events is pretty much the highest honour I could ask for!

Clue 3 – Secret Valentine’s Exchange


In mid-January sign ups went live for this year’s Secret Valentine Exchange. I’d not taken part before, but I know a lot of people who really love it as a swap, so thought I’d get on board. Besides, it’s not really selfish sewing if you’re going to get something in return, right?


My gift went to Nina, and based on her love of orange and blue and her frankly awesome knitting skills I made her a knitting needle roll using this tutorial from Guthrie & Ghani. The chambray was in my stash from my shirt dress, whilst the orange came from a single fat quarter. I made the piping out of some bias binding I had. I also sent some yarn and knitting needles, because you can’t have an empty needle holder or needles with nothing to go on them!


In return I received a wonderful gift from Amy, you can find out more on my Instagram feed.

Clue 4 – sewing for a baby

The boy’s sister-in-law has just had a baby, making me an auntie by proxy, so of course I sewed something up for the little baby, I mean, he’s so cute (baby not boy) that it would have been cruel not to. Plus, I already had the bib pattern from the sewing I’ve been doing as a part of The Big Sew (which, yes, is also unselfish, but shh, or rather, click through and find out how you can help!) so it wasn’t even like it was that big of a deal. Honest.Verdict

It seems it’s confirmed. I am a handmade gift giver, no two ways about it. Still, given that my next few projects are all for me, I don’t think the title will stick too hard!

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I cord-n’t stop the awful puns


In the middle of the summer, I got in to my head that the dress I wanted for autumn was a blue needlecord dungaree dress. I didn’t know why, it was just what I wanted.

Time marched on, and I found myself in September, having not bought any corduroy. Tilly & the Buttons had just launched Cleo so suddenly the internet was awash with dungaree dresses.

Still I didn’t pull my finger out.

Then, I went to Hong Kong, and when I came back I knew exactly what the first thing I was going to make was. That dungaree dress I’d had my eye on for months. It took me until the middle of November. It was worth it.

Coupled with my trust Belle and Sebastian brooch

What is it?

A corduroy dungaree dress

Is it blue?

Yes!

What’s the fabric and where is it from?

The fabric is a thickish corduroy which is actually leftover sofa material from the time that I made a sofa cover that I then dyed blue with machine dye. The whole process made me feel like a wizard, which was pretty cool.


What’s the pattern?

It’s a mash up of the Hollyburn skirt and the Cotton & Chalk Sunday Set pattern, which I got free with a copy of Simply sewing magazine. I really liked the dungaree part of the Sunday Set, but wanted a longer skirt, and I also wanted slash pockets in the skirt which the Hollyburn has.

What was good about making it?

The sense of achievement pulling together lots of different patterns to make a dress was pretty cool. I also like the fact that I’ve managed to make something that combines my usual style with something a bit more casual.

On top of this, I got to use my trusty clamp (or whatever it is they’re called; the squeezy plier things) to squeeze the jeans buttons in place, and that’s always fun.

Look how neat it looks!

Finally, the two tone effect that occurred due to the machine dying meant that not only does the fabric have a really interesting variation in it, but the cutting and sewing was a piece of cake as everything was in clear straight lines.

What was bad about making it?

Turning the dungaree straps. Oh man that was a pain. They’re quite long, and quite thing, which, adding in the thickness of the fabric meant it was totally unwieldy to deal with.

Would you make it again?

Probably not. Not because I don’t love it (and indeed, I’ve had a load of wear out of it over the last two months) but, realistically, I don’t think I’d wear another dungaree dress!

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(Cotton) diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Reader, I have a confession. I have become a bit obsessed by African wax print.

It started out innocently enough; I noticed on Instagram that some bloggers (particularly Roisin and Vicky) were posting up dresses made from super vibrant bold patterned fabric. Something about the vibrancy sparked an affection for the fabric, but it wasn’t something I saw when physically fabric shopping so I watched from afar.

Then I started to see wax cotton on my rounds of the rag market, and realised how well priced it is. The affection strengthened, moving into an attraction. I even bought a piece, relatively subdued in pattern as it was, and used it for my Colette Rue, marvelling at how workable the fabric was.

The attraction morphed further.

Things came to a head towards the end of September. In my day job, I work predominantly from home, but when I’m in London I work out of an office that’s based in Rich Mix.

Which is a ten minute walk from Middlesex Street, one of the hubs of wax print in London.

Which I then discovered having not previously realised it.

Faced with overwhelming choice and a serious heap of desire I caved, and came back two wonderfully joyful outrageous pieces of fabric. The obsession was fixed…

 

What is it?

A strappy summer dress with a princess seam bodice and gathered skirt.

Is it blue?

Some of the panels are blue, as are the lines that connect the little roundels.

My house is on Bank Street. Cue obligatory ridiculous posing….

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

An amazing piece of African wax cotton from Middlesex Street. I think I bought it in Good Luck Textiles, but, based on the number of stores in the area, you could into any of them and have a blast.

What’s the pattern?

I used the By Hand London Charlie dress, using a gathered skirt rather than a circle skirt, as per the strawberry dress.

What was good about making this?

How truly wonderfully vibrant it is. I did some pattern matching on the bodice that seemed to actually work (a feat for me….), and I also liked the pattern placement that I did with the roundels central on the bodice.
It came together relatively quickly and felt like a fun thing to sew, probably based on the happiness of the pattern.

What was bad about making this?

I spent a while wondering about the skirt length, and, although I ended up going for the shorter length, still wonder if I made the right decision and should have stuck with midi length (although it’s definitely too late for that now….). I also had worries that I wouldn’t actually wear the dress because it’s that bit more vibrant than my usual makes. I shouldn’t have though, as it was amazing to wear and, even if it ends up being mainly a summer holiday dress, it is still wonderful.


Would you make it again?

I do really like the Charlie pattern, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I made another. I also have a lot of fabric left (pretty standard where wax cotton is concerned as it comes in 6 yard chunks) so I may well make a skirt in the same fabric that might, possibly, be a way to wear the print more regularly.

x

Good things happen to those who….*

05-img_0720For Christmas this year, amongst the things I bought for the boy was a copy of the Walden shirt pattern Negroni, the thinking being that it could either be something that we made together (if he had any interest in learning to sew) or something that I could make for him as a delayed gratification gift.

Possibly unsurprisingly, he had absolutely no interest in learning to sew, so I made up my mind that I would make him a shirt. We found some fabric he liked, I traced off the pattern and everything was ready.

And then some time passed. And a bit more time. And suddenly it was September, nine months after Christmas, eight months since the fabric arrived, and as part of this year’s #sewphotohop I discovered that the fabric was still sat in my stash box, waiting to be used.

The time for waiting was over.

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Perfecting blue steel….

What is it?

A long sleeved men’s shirt with flat felled seams and a left hand pocket.

Is it blue?

Yes (because he’s a boy after my own heart!)

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

The fabric is a lovely shirting cotton with tiny purple pansies and blue steering wheels (best description I can think of!) bought from Fabworks Mill.

04-img_0718Super shirt for a super man…

What’s the pattern?

Negroni by Walden, the menswear arm of Colette in version 1 (but with only one pocket).

What was good about making this?

Seeing him wear it. That’s basically the best thing. Once the sappiness is out of the way though, there were a couple of things I enjoyed with this:

  • Pattern matching was an absolute dream, mainly due to the tiny repeat. I’m really pleased with the way that the final shirt has matched up.
  • Although a bit of a nightmare, the self finishing yoke and the placket pieces were really nice visually.
  • I got to use my own labels! These were a birthday present from the boy, so it seemed fitting that the first thing I used them on was something for him.
  • Learning how to do flat felled seams; they’ve got a really neat look to them.
  • The buttonholes came out neat as, well, a button, which is always an added bonus.

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Someone’s been taking hints from my posing…

What was bad about making this?

Apart from the guilt about how long it took to get moving with this, I had a bit of a mare doing the flat felled seams on the armhole and the cuffs did not want to behave, although it was nothing that a bit of rigorous pressing and topstitching couldn’t hide.

Would you make it again?

I would. Maybe not often, but I am pleased with it, and I also see it being quite a useful last minute (ok, last several days) gift in the future!

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*wait.

One dress to Rue them all

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A while ago, Colette Patterns put a call out for pattern testers. I signed up, assuming that they’d get hundreds of responses and that I didn’t stand a chance. To my surprise, they asked me to take part in testing their newest pattern, the Rue dress.

I was pretty excited if I’m honest, and, when they revealed that it would be released on my birthday I knew what had to be done; it was time to make my birthday dress.

What is it?

A capped sleeved dress, with curved style lines on the bodice and a pleated knee length skirt.

Is it blue?

Yup yup!

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Just out of shot: a champagne saucer filled with prosecco.
Well it was my birthday!

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

The fabric is an African wax cotton print that I found in the rag market (at the man who sells Liberty’s stall to be precise). The lining material was Monaco anti-static lining from Guthrie and Ghani in a lovely silvery grey.

What’s the pattern?

Why the Colette Rue of course!

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What was good about making this?

Aside from the excitement of getting a sneaky peek at a brand new design, there were a couple of good things about this.

I love the style lines on the bodice and was pleased with the way that I was able to rotate my pieces to make the most of demonstrating this with such a bold print. It felt like it really highlighted the centre point.

I don’t often do full lining, and even when I do a bodice lining I usually use fabrics that are fairly cotton-like (even when they are polyester…). For this dress I used a more traditional shiny lining material and it does give a more professional look to the inside (although that’s not to say I’m a total convert…).

Generally the instructions were really clear, and that made this all the easier; Colette describe the dress as being intermediate level, but it certainly didn’t feel like it!

What was bad about making this?

There was only one bad thing, and that was sewing down the lining on the bodice. My days it was a nightmare.

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Lining nightmare face

The instructions for this step were pretty confusing as I’d not done something like that before, and, although they provided a link to a video that explained the technique, the video showed a sleeveless dress. Which mean it just didn’t work (to my brain at least) when trying to also deal with cap sleeves.

I had three goes at it and not one worked (in fact, one of them ended up sewing the lining to the outside of the dress. I’ve no idea how but it did). The boy had a look and he couldn’t figure it. I ended up saying “sod it” (but in slightly more…fruity… language) and leaving the raw edge sewn but exposed as no-one is going to see up my sleeve anyway!

Would you make it again?

I would. I’d consider not doing a full lining – or indeed any lining – as based on other dresses I’ve made I think this one would get away with it. I’d also like to try a sleeveless variation; I tried this on at the stage where the zipper was in and the sleeves were off and thought “this would work”. The final design idea that I’d like to try would be to add piping to the bodice, something I very nearly did this time but decided against as I thought multi-direction arrows were detail enough!

How about you? Have you had a go at Rue yet? What did you think?

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Disclaimer: although Colette sent me the pattern for Rue for free, I received no other payment and all the views expressed here are my own. 

Spot the new Moneta….

img_0195 How can you not jump for joy in a former Italian abbey?

It’s no secret that I love Moneta, and it’s quickly become a regular sew, especially since I discovered that I can get a dress out of just one metre of fabric with a bit of wiggling. So it was no surprise that when I spotted some polka dot fabric on a trip to the rag market hosted by Rach that I quickly snapped some up ready for a light and breezy summer dress.

What is it?

A sleeveless jersey dress with a fitted bodice and gathered skirt

Is it blue?

Yup yup yup!

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

A thin lightweight jersey from an outdoor stall at the rag market; it was a bargain too, costing only £1.50!

What’s the pattern?

The Colette Moneta (again!)

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Seriously, the view from this place was amazing!

What was good about making this?

As ever just the speed at which I could get it sewn up was a delight

What was bad about making this?

The fabric was printed ever so slightly squiffy which meant cutting out pieces so that they would line up was a bit of a nightmare. Luckily it’s nothing that couldn’t be sorted with a quick application of some scissors!

Would you make it again?

I wouldn’t say never, although now that we’re moving into autumn I might look to make a few more sleeved versions of the dress. That said, I have a freaking huge list of to-be-mades at the moment so unless it’s a truly truly fabulous print I think it’ll be a while before I make another.

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Blue flowers? Must be acidic soil…

01-IMG_9759Sometimes you just get a bee in your bonnet, or at least you do if you’re as stubborn as me… 

In this case I decided that I wanted to get my wearable toile of the Colette Crepe ready in time to wear on a weekend trip to my parents. Even though I hadn’t cut out all of the pieces on the Friday evening and didn’t finish work and dinner until gone 8…

Yet amazingly, remarkably, I actually managed to do it (and ok, staying up until 1am probably helped).

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What is it?

A wrap dress with a rounded neckline and back wrap

Is it blue?

The flowers are!

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

The fabric is a cheapy viscose I picked up in Barry’s fabrics purposely for making a toile with.

What’s the pattern?

The Colette Crepe pattern.

08-IMG_9774(Not the best photo but my usual photographer was a bit …delicate)

What was good about making this?

The speed! I admit I cute a couple of corners, but given this was a toile I didn’t mind too much, and the result was a four hour sew.

What was bad about making this?

The viscose was pretty horrendous to work with. At the time of sewing I’d hoped it was because it was cheap (more on that in a future post…).

The fit wasn’t ideal, it feels far too big around the bodice despite being pulled pretty darned tight. However I cut a straight six so figured I could make alterations on the actual version.

Would you make it again?

This was a wearable toile for a version I wanted to wear to a wedding so in theory yes.

But….

….to be continued….

Shh! Secret cats!

IMG_9216This may look like a polka dot dress, but it harbours a secret. A rather feline secret.

And why’s that?

Because some of the polka dots are secretly cats!

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What is it?

A sweetheart neck, princess seam bodice with a gathered skirt

Is it blue?

I think it definitely counts as on the spectrum. Plus a couple of the polka dots (and secret cats) are blue too

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

The fabric is a lovely cotton called Happy Pop that I bought when we were in Japan last year.

What’s the pattern?

The By Hand London Kim dress

What was good about making this?

Aside from the secret cats? I made a couple of alterations to this after having made the underground dress, and it’s all the better for it. I could probably still take another centimetre off the straps, but otherwise it’s fitting and looking much better.

I also found the fabric was wonderfully easy to pattern match as the different cats made it easy to know where to lay out the pieces.

Honourable mention should go to the insertion of the invisible zip in this dress, which I expected to be a nightmare but which was near perfect (to my standards!) as you can see above.

What was bad about making this?

Pretty much nothing. It worked really well, I think I just want to take that one additional centimetre off…

Would you make it again?

Quite probably, I love the sit of the neckline on this dress and I have some lovely cotton I bought on ebay that is waiting for something like this….

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